The mood around Aston Villa recently hasn’t been great. Social media has been awash with negativity and only two people predicted remotely positive results in the prediction league for our fixture against Manchester City.
The arrivals of Leander Dendonker and Jan Bednarek on transfer deadline day didn’t seem to change the optimism amongst the faithful. The pressure was on Steven Gerrard as many suggested on our recent podcast spaces on Thursday evening with some predicting his departure should we take a heavy beating in the game.
One thing that has bothered me about Gerrard was his stubbornness to stick by a system that was being exploited week in, week out. And despite all the criticism that has gone his way he once again stuck with the same system for yesterday evening’s game.
He did make one change though from the defeat to Arsenal. Douglas Luiz, who was reportedly wanted by Arsenal on transfer deadline day replaced Emi Buendia in the team, and credit where it’s due, it balanced the team out a lot better.
I have been calling for Luiz to start alongside Bouba Kamara in a double pivot and based on yesterday’s game, although we rode our luck at times, it seemed to pay off. Jacob Ramsey looked more comfortable in a more advanced role as well.
A lot of Villa fans joked about making Erling Harland their captain in their fantasy teams this week but for the most, Tyrone Mings kept the Norweigan quiet.
The visitors could have easily gone in the lead after just five minutes when former Villan Kyle Walker blazed horribly over the bar from the right-hand side of the box.
City were dominating the possession as you would expect but Villa was containing them quite well for the majority.
Unlike last week when fans booed Villa off the pitch, they applauded the efforts at the half-time whistle.
Within 5 minutes of the restart, the champions took the lead. Kevin De Bruyne exchanged passed with Bernardo Silvo and sent over a cross that went over the head of Emi Martinez and then slotted into the back of the net by Haaland.
Villa didn’t let their heads drop and Ramsey should have done better when he robbed Rodri but his heavy touch took the ball into Ederson.
Villa were soon level and again Ramsey was involved. The midfielder traveled forward into the box and squared the ball for Leon Bailey who smashed a left-footed effort into the top corner.
Supporters were once again on their feet moments later when Phillipe Coutinho put the ball into the back of the net from the edge of the box. The referee disallowed it after blowing his whistle just before the ball hit the net for offside. VAR would have confirmed it wasn’t offside but due to the whistle-happy referee, VAR couldn’t get involved.
It was a much-improved performance from Villa and they rightly received plaudits for the result. Credit where it’s due for Gerrard, yes there was a bit of luck but he got it spot on, on the day.
The performance and result will mean nothing though unless Villa can build on this performance when they take on Leicester City next weekend.